Friday, September 10, 2010

Visit to the Propaganda Museum

Visit to the Propaganda Museum
September 2, 2010
Shanghai, China

"Scatter the old world, build a new world",  "Produce more! Contribute more!",  "Sleep, do not disturb daddy while he is using his head". After hearing these, don't you feel like you are motivated and inspired to take up your hammer and scythe and start working out there in the fields? Perhaps if you hear and see those slogans everywhere for the entirety of your lifetime, they may become engraved into your brain and make you work harder better faster stronger, who knows.

When I saw the posters at the Propaganda Museum on last Thursday, it was quite interesting to see how the culture and lifestyle of the 20th century China were both reflected and created through those images. Considering that there was almost no other access to any other forms of art at the time, the only "art" an average Joe (or Wang in China) could appreciate were these images on the posters.

What has really got my attention though, was the fact that the political climates and the party's stances of the time that are reflected through the exaggerated socialistic propaganda art style. For example, during the Korean War, China's intervention was justified through the messages like "It's glorious to take part, to oppose America, support Korea." The changes in the relationship between China and the Soviet Union were also evident in these posters. Whereas in 1950's and early 60's posters would have messages like "Study the Soviet Union's advanced economy to build up our nation" with the Russians being portrayed as an older brother, the posters from late 60's and on shows China's split with the Russians.

The posters thus are not only the Socialist China's only outlet of art in the 20th century, but also the actual pieces of history that one can glimpse at to understand the modern Chinese history. Thousands of these posters were printed and mass relayed through out the country. However, many were lost in transition and time. So to see that someone was out there collecting and preserving these pieces of history brought a relief to me, and I came to appreciate them more.

No comments: